We hit the National Gallery last week, because they had not one, not two, but three special exhibits on that were must-see shows for me.
There was the Alex Coville retrospective, which was fantastic – lots of famous art, lots of things to learn, and best of all, snippets of great movies that had been inspired by his work (did you know that FOUR of his paintings appear in The Shining?).
There’s a Marc Chagall exhibit, his drawings from the book Dauphnis and Chloe, and he’s my all time favourite artist, although there was a LOT of explaining to the kids why everyone was naked all the time, plus one of my kids asked loudly, “WHAT’S A HYMEN?” in the middle of the exhibit, so you know, maybe think twice about bringing the kids.
There’s also a small feature on Mary Pratt and her famous paintings of pots of jam, and I’m now an enormous fan of her lovely, bold, brilliant work.
But the most interesting part about going to the art gallery is all the warnings. We are like, on the Most Wanted list at the Art Gallery, it would seem. I think we received a stiff warning from every single guard we encountered.
Too close to the art. TOO CLOSE TO THE ART. Lady, I’m going to have to ask you leave if I have to warn you one more time.
No running in the gallery. NO RUN! I will ask you to leave if there is running.
Only one person working with the interactive art at a time. I have told you this once already.
No pictures in here. Don’t touch the water in the fountain, it is part of the artwork. No backpacks allowed.
That last one is interesting to me, because no backpacks are allowed, but purses are allowed. I have seen ladies bring in purses that could easily conceal the Mona Lisa, and I have been there with my little leather “fashion” backpack, about 10 inches square, and been made to check it simply because of the way it is worn.
I prefer to bring a backpack with me when I go out with the kids for comfort – I always travel with a ton of allergy meds and other emergency supplies – and the gallery, to their credit, will give me an exception for my backpack for medical reasons. But here is the weird thing: even though they give me a backpack exception, I am not allowed to carry it on my back. One-strapping is fine, or I can wear it on my front. I am allowed to carry it in my hand. But two-strapping, in traditional backpack style? No.
I got called out on this like, five times by the security guards. You must wear your backpack with one strap. It says so right on your security tag. I wasn’t trying to break the rule, it was just habit – every time I took it off I slipped it back on two-strapped, then got warned about 30 seconds later by a guard. Each time, I apologized and immediately corrected the situation.
But now I wonder…why? Not that I’m looking to create a problem here, it’s a simple enough rule to follow, but I just don’t get it. Why can I have my backpack, but not wear it like a backpack? Is it that I’m more likely to bump into something? Is it some sort of security risk? Is it that the gallery staff think backpacks are ugly, and they offend any sane person’s artistic sensibility?
It’s a mystery.